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The people demanded it: An affordable four door sport sedan incorporating the performance and luxury benchmarks the high-end division of Honda has become known for. Last spring, the people got what they wanted: The Acura TSX, with a 2.4-liter, 200-hp engine hooked to a six-speed manual, race-bred suspension and a roomy, plush interior as only Acura could construct it. Priced between $25,000 and $30,000, the TSX offers potential buyers a high degree of bling for not a lot of cash, and puts other entry level European and Japanese luxury performance vehicles squarely in its sights.

Naturally, a car like this targets a different buyer than that who would purchase, say, an RSX Type S, so you aren't going to see a whole lot of modified TSX vehicles running around out there--at least not at this early stage. Then again, if its one thing we know, it's that no matter the vehicle, there's always someone who's ready to wrench on it and wring the very last drops of performance from the powertrain and chassis.


Having said that, meet the latest addition to the long list of project cars from DAZZ Motorsports, a 2004 Acura TSX. According to Joey Ortega, sales and marketing manager for DAZZ, the company chose this platform because, well, no one else had. "It's a little different platform than others we've done in the past," he said. "Also, with the popularity of cars like the 350Z and Evo VIII, we wanted to bring Honda/Acura vehicles back into the spotlight and show people that they're still great cars to modify."


In examining the base TSX, it's interesting to note the difference between its engine and that found in the RSX-S. Despite pushing 2.4 liters of displacement compared to an even 2.0 in the RSX, the TSX's powerplant is rated at an identical 200 hp. Look closely at the official numbers though, and you'll see the TSX achieves maximum power 600 rpm sooner. Additionally, it boasts 166 lb-ft torque at 4500 rpm, compared to a peak torque figure of 142 lb-ft 1500 rpm later in the RSX-S. This means the TSX produces significantly more torque a lot sooner than its two-door cousin. This engine tuning makes sense; the TSX is, after all, aimed at the luxury segment, and if you're some bigshot out on the town wining and dining your honey you don't always want to be winding the engine to redline in order to get where you need to go.


That's our take on it, anyway--but the fact remains, the TSX still has nearly a half liter more displacement. From the project's first day, DAZZ planned on taking advantage of this extra fuel in the most efficient way possible--that would be turbo. For the car's forced induction upgrade, DAZZ turned to the experts at HKS USA, who constructed a full bolt-on kit and fuel enrichment parameters for the brand-new platform.


For the hardware upgrades, HKS bent a new turbo manifold from SUS304 stainless, removed the catalytic converter and replaced that section with a custom downpipe, and replaced the remainder of the exhaust system with a specially made dual Hi-Power exhaust, the first of its kind for this particular platform. The turbocharger itself is an HKS GT2835 Pro S ball-bearing unit, which was paired with an HKS S-Type front-mount intercooler and HKS Super Sequential blow-off valve for maximum operating efficiency. Fuel enrichment is effected by an upgraded HKS in-tank fuel pump, HKS fuel pressure regulator, a custom rail, and 600cc injectors, and controlled by the F-CON V Pro Engine Management unit. Boost is controlled by HKS's EVC boost controller. After extensive research and development and the requisite fine tuning, this TSX was able to throw down more than 350 hp on its initial dyno runs. Ortega believes more power is very possible once they're able to get a new clutch made for the car, since the factory assembly was really struggling to hold the power. It's not entirely clear whether or not a consumer version of this turbo kit will be available in the future, but we sure hope so.


Additions to the outside of the car include various exterior enhancements that were molded especially for this vehicle. Like the turbo system, these are still one-off pieces that may or may not filter down to you, the consumer--but we think there's a pretty good chance that many of them will (just speculation, mind you). One part that is currently available is a factory optional underbody front spoiler kit with integrated fog lamps, available through Acura dealerships, which was integrated with a custom front splitter specially molded by APR. APR also provided the carbon-fiber rear spoiler and side mirrors, while Fiber Images provided a carbon-fiber hood and trunk lid. A liberal coat of eye-scorching Competition Orange paint with a dash of gold pearl and show graphics from Modern Image complete the look.


For the shows, this TSX sports not one but two new sets of wheels from DAZZ, the eight-spoke RH J8 on one side, and the split five-spoke RH J5 on the other. These two designs are part of a new line of RH performance wheels, produced under the Pro Series moniker. For this application, DAZZ went with a sizable 19-in format and wrapped all four rollers in high-dollar Pirelli P Zero Rosso rubbers, sized 235/35R19. A full coilover system from Tanabe, also specially developed for this car, drops the chassis into its street fighting stance.


On the other side of the window glass, alterations to the cabin include a pair of Bride Ergo II competition seats. DAZZ purchased extra upholstery and re-skinned the back seat and portions of the door panels in the same material that skins the Bride buckets. There's also a small array of HKS Chrono series gauges that allow the driver and tuner alike to keep track of conditions inside the engine bay, comprising boost, EGT and fuel pressure, as well as a Type 1 turbo timer to allow the fire-breathing turbo powerplant to safely cool off after an extended run of spirited driving.


As of this writing, a revised stereo system is the only component that's absent from the project. Believe it or not, the dash-mounted and rear flip-down LCD screens, linked to an in-dash DVD head unit, represent another Acura factory option. And with a surround sound system that includes no less than eight speakers mounted in the dash, the doors, and the rear deck, the factory ICE is pretty damn effective. Even so, Ortega confides that an upgraded sound system will be next on his company's list of mods.


Since it would be nearly impossible to recoup the monetary value, both parts and labor, that's been sunk into DAZZ's TSX, the company has no plans to sell the car any time soon. Instead, it'll be making its industry rounds for at least the next couple years. Keep an eye open for it at your favorite event. Chances are good it may change slightly from time to time, but it'll be the same four-door, turbo-snorting monster you saw on the cover of ImportTuner--and the way we see it, it can only get sweeter.

Check out the pictures at Import Tuner: http://www.importtuner.com/features/0407it_covercar/
 

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